Ready, Steady, Cook!

Image0632What are we having for lunch? I have no idea and it’s due in half an hour. That’s been my regular challenge for many years, as I am one of those people who – even with a shopping list – is always one ingredient short of my recipe.

Not a problem, I’m used to it. Look in the fridge and pantry, and see what waves its “USE BY” date at me. Then see what I can do with those.

Today it was some chicken breasts and mushrooms, so not really a challenge at all. But let’s make it a bit interesting. What else needs using up? Carrots, three-quarters of an onion, celery, sweet peppers, half a cabbage, tomatoes. Maybe not the cabbage and tomatoes today.  Aha, some crème fraîche and a hunk of gorgonzola cheese!

A quick flip through recipes on the Internet, and for some reason they all want me to cook the chicken in the oven for an hour and a half. So that rules them out.

This one sounds good, but I am undisciplined and find it extremely difficult to follow recipes faithfully, even though I know they have been tried and tested and refined before being published, so I shouldn’t be experimenting with them. Still that little devil on my shoulder murmurs in my ear, “Add some chilli – ginger – cinnamon – rhubarb …” Sometimes it works, sometimes my victims are polite, other times they aren’t.chicken mushroon

Well, I more or less followed this one, apart from pounding the daylights out of the chicken breasts, which were about an inch thick, so I left them. They didn’t need to look like schnitzels. That naturally lengthened the time they needed to cook, so it was nearer half an hour than 15 minutes altogether

I also began by glazing the chopped-up leftover onion in the oil. Then, since half a lemon was winking at me, its juice went into the marinade too, and I had to adjust the seasoning at the end by adding a teaspoonful of honey to counteract the acidity. Oh, and a good dollop of mayonnaise in the marinade and a couple of spoonfuls of crème fraîche to thicken the sauce at the end.

This was a Weight Watchers recipe when it started, though it was only at the end as I copied it for this blog that it suddenly struck me what WW stands for. Freud would have known why.

I used olive oil, though I did contemplate a jar containing goose fat left over from Christmas (it still smells good) but the pounds are beginning to creep back on and I want to wear my slinky dress again soon, so the goose fat stayed in the fridge together with the gorgonzola.

American recipes, with the quantities expressed by volume rather than by weight, sometimes flummox me. Here it was 2 cups of mushrooms. How many mushrooms is that? I used four good-sized ones, but six would have been better. And I have learnt from American friends that a skillet is a frying pan so no language barrier here.

Carrots, celery and sweet peppers chopped into bite-sized chunks cooked happily in the microwave, seasoned with salt, black pepper, rosemary and thyme. A saucepan of rice also cooked itself in the same time as the chicken mushroom dish, and it did all look very appetising on the plate. However, it was served and had been eaten before I thought of taking a photo. And in any case, I’ve developed a complex about photographing food since I’ve seen my granddaughter’s marvellous mouth-watering food photos at The Tea Conspiracy. You’ll just have to imagine it. Here are some from the website instead (now the proof has been eaten, I can boast that mine looked yummier!) chicken mushroom2

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms

Servings: 4, Total time: 15 minutes


2 teaspoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced (or more!)

4 (4 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness

2 cups small mushrooms, halved, or quartered if using larger mushrooms

1/3 cup chicken broth or 1/3 cup white wine

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled


1. In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil.

2. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the mustard and garlic.

3 .Add the chicken and coat both sides with the mixture.

4.Transfer the chicken and mixture to the skillet; sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

5. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

6. In the skillet, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil.

7. Sauté the mushrooms about a minute; add the broth/wine, thyme and remaining tablespoon of vinegar.

8. Cook stirring until the mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer.

9. Serve the chicken, topped with the mushrooms.


5 thoughts on “Ready, Steady, Cook!

  1. anything with mushrooms has to be good, I say. This sounds very tasty, and for someone who didn’t know what she was serving for lunch, wow, you outdid anything I would have done on short notice. I likely would have put a tossed salad together and said voila!

    • A salad would probably have had fewer calories, too, but it’s still pretty chilly here, and a salad for Sunday lunch doesn’t really appeal. And yes – mushrooms of any variety, any time, any way, raw or cooked, always please!

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